HGC in the South: Days 5 and 6

Day 5: I spent 6 hours on the bus today, so there’s not much to talk about. After driving for about a half-an-hour, we reached Drayton Hall, which was a plantation owned by a wealthy South Carolinian family.

Drayton Hall

Drayton Hall

Pollen was in the air, so we stifled our sneezes and tried to avoid rubbing our eyes as we were guided around the main house, constructed prior to the American Revolution. Although the house looked nice, it was hard to divorce it from its historical role as a slave-supported plantation. The tour guide knew that there were slaves on the plantation, but had no record of where they lived or where they were buried.

After leaving Drayton Hall, we drove until lunch, where I had my first Chick-fil-A since winter break, then drove some more. Once we got into Florida, a game of Cards Against Humanity was started, so I participated in that (and learned some unpleasant new terms) until dinner.

We stopped briefly just south of Jacksonville for dinner, then drove the rest of the way to Orlando, where we met our hosts. We were going to have some excursions the next day, so after eating some cookies with our host, we went to sleep.

Day 6: In the morning, everyone met at Universal Studios, before we split into two groups. Some people went to explore Universal Studios and the Harry Potter World, while others went to Bok Tower Gardens, located about an hour south of Orlando. I’m not a big fan of roller coasters or large sweaty crowds of people, so I was with the Garden group.

I slept on the drive down, and once we got there we saw a video which gave some background on Bok Tower. It was constructed by Edward Bok, who was well known in his time; President Calvin Coolidge came to dedicate the opening of the tower. As later generations came and developed the property, it eventually became the Bok Tower Gardens.

Bok Tower

Bok Tower

First, I explored the Pinewood Estate, which was constructed by the Beck family (not to be confused with the Bok family). It looked very familiar to me, because it was constructed in the Mediterranean/Spanish style which many houses in California follow. Next to the Pinewood Estate, about 300 meters south, is the Bok Tower.

The tower contains a carillon, which is basically a keyboard attached to bell clappers, such that pressing one of the keys will cause the corresponding clapper to hit the bell. At 1 PM, there was a concert of Bach and Bob Marley, so I sat in the shade and listened to the concert before heading back to the visitor’s center to hang out with those people who had brought work to do. I did not plan ahead, otherwise I would have brought my organic chemistry study materials.

We left at 3 PM to pick up the rest of the people from Universal before heading to the newly constructed Dr. Phillips Performing Arts Center in downtown Orlando. Walking around backstage reminded me of the time I had spent in Palo Alto exploring the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts and Opera San Jose.

This was the first time we had performed in such a space, rather than a church, so we had to get used to the different acoustic. On top of this, many of our voices were tired, whether from over-singing or rollercoaster screaming. However, we were performing for a sold-out audience, and I think that definitely helped our energy level.

The Lobby

The Lobby

Although there wasn’t anything too remarkable about the concert, I must note that Lite was very well received, which was something of a surprise based on how our last two concerts had gone. That was a nice feeling.



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